I was sharing with you how a broad-based transformation such as cloud will increase agility and efficiency of an organization if process re-engineering is part of the plan. I have also stressed on the key enterprise requirements such as “broad and deep solutions, “running your mission critical applications” and “automated and integrated set of capabilities”. Let me walk you through some key cloud attributes such as “elasticity” and “self-service” and what they mean for an enterprise class cloud. I will also talk about how we at Oracle have taken a very enterprise centric view to developing cloud solutions and how our products have been specifically engineered to address enterprise cloud needs.
Cloud Elasticity and Enterprise Applications Requirements
Easy and quick scalability for a short-period of time is the signature of cloud based solutions. It is this elasticity that allows you to dynamically redistribute your resources according to business priorities, helps increase your overall resource utilization, and reduces operational costs by allowing you to get the most out of your existing investment.
Most public clouds are offering a instant provisioning mechanism of compute power (CPU, RAM, Disk), customer pay for the instance-hours(and bandwidth) they use, adding computing resources at peak times and removing them when they are no longer needed. This type of “just-in-time” serving of compute resources is well known for mid-tiers “state less” servers such as web application servers and web servers that just need another machine to start and run on it but what does it really mean for an enterprise application and its underlying data? Most enterprise applications are not as quite as “state less” and justifiably so. As such, how do you take advantage of cloud elasticity and make it relevant for your enterprise apps? This is where Cloud meets Grid Computing.
At Oracle, we have invested enormous amount of time, energy and resources in creating enterprise grid solutions. All our technology products offer built-in elasticity via clustering and dynamic scaling. With products like Real Application Clusters (RAC), Automatic Storage Management, WebLogic Clustering, and Coherence In-Memory Grid, we allow all your enterprise applications to benefit from Cloud elasticity –both vertically and horizontally - without requiring any application changes.
A number of technology vendors take a rather simplistic route of starting up additional or removing unneeded VM as the "Cloud Scale-Out" solution. While this may work for stateless mid-tier servers where load balancers can handle the addition and remove of instances transparently but following a similar approach for the database tier - often called as "database sharding" - requires significant application modification and typically does not work with off the shelf packaged applications. Technologies like Oracle Database Real Application Clusters, Automatic Storage Management, etc. on the other hand bring the benefits of incremental scalability and on-demand elasticity to ANY application by providing a simplified abstraction layers where the application does not need deal with data spread over multiple database instances. Rather they just talk to a single database and the database software takes care of aggregating resources across multiple hardware components. It is the technologies like these that truly make a cloud solution relevant for enterprises.
For customers who are looking for a next generation hardware consolidation platform, our engineered systems (e.g. Exadata, Exalogic) not only provide incredible amount of performance and capacity, they also reduce the data center complexity and simplify operations.
Assemble, Deploy and Manage Enterprise Applications for Cloud
Products like Oracle Virtual assembly builder (OVAB) resolve the complex problem of bringing the cloud speed to complex multi-tier applications. With assemblies, you can not only provision all components of a multi-tier application and wire them together by push of a button, other aspects of application lifecycle, such as real-time application testing, scale-up/scale-down, performance and availability monitoring, etc., are also automated using Oracle Enterprise Manager.
An essential criteria for an enterprise cloud to succeed is the ability to ensure business service levels especially when business users have either full visibility on the usage cost with a “show back” or a “charge back”. With Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c, we have created the most comprehensive cloud management solution in the industry that is capable of managing business service levels “applications-to-disk” in a enterprise private cloud – all from a single console. It is the only cloud management platform in the industry that allows you to deliver infrastructure, platform and application cloud services out of the box. Moreover, it offers integrated and complete lifecycle management of the cloud - including planning and set up, service delivery, operations management, metering and chargeback, etc . Sounds unbelievable? Well, just watch this space for more details on how Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c is the nerve center of Oracle Cloud!
Our cloud solution portfolio is also the broadest and most deep in the industry - covering public, private, hybrid, Infrastructure, platform and applications clouds. It is no coincidence therefore that the Oracle Cloud today offers the most comprehensive set of public cloud services in the industry. And to a large part, this has been made possible thanks to our years on investment in creating cloud enabling technologies.
But the intent of this blog post isn't to dwell on how great our solutions are (these are just some examples to illustrate how we at Oracle have approached this problem space). Rather it is to help you ask the right questions before you embark on your cloud journey. So to summarize, here are the key takeaways.
- It is critical that you are clear on why you are building the cloud. Successful organizations keep business benefits as the first and foremost cloud objective. On the other hand, those who approach this purely as a technology project are more likely to fail.
- Think about where you want to be in 3-5 years before you get started. Your long terms objectives should determine what your first step ought to be. As obvious as it may seem, more people than not make the first move without knowing where they are headed.
- Don’t make the mistake of equating cloud to virtualization and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Spinning a VM on-demand will give some short term relief to your IT staff but is unlikely to solve your larger business problems. As such, even if IaaS is your first step towards a more comprehensive cloud, plan the roadmap around those higher level services before you begin. And ask your vendors on how they are going to be your partners in this journey.
- Capabilities like self-service access and chargeback/showback are absolutely critical if you really expect your cloud to be transformational. Your business won't see the full benefits of the cloud until it empowers them with same kind of control and transparency that they are used to while using a public cloud service.
- Evaluate the benefits of integration, as opposed to blindly following the best-of-breed strategy. Integration is a huge challenge and more so in a cloud environment. There are enormous costs associated with stitching a solution out of disparate components and even more in maintaining it.
Hope you found these ideas helpful. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences.